tv Book Discussion on Shooting Straight CSPAN November 9, 2013 4:15pm-5:16pm EST
all of this nonsense, this was going on then, and it's going on now; although, the language has been tempered. drugs are easy scapegoats because most of the population don't use drugs. you can't say these things about alcohol, even though alcohol is pharmacology active like any other drug like cocaine and other things. you can't say crazy things about alcohol because many people drink alcohol and know the effects of alcohol. fewer people use cocaine, and so you can tell the credible, incredible stories about cocaine. watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. now on booktv, cnn's morgan talks about shooting straight talking about the career in journalism and weighs in on gun control, gay marriage, and religion. this is about an hour.
>> this begins in june of 2010 when you are offered the chance to replace larry king who, you yourself, call a living legend, and at that point, you have been in really working in television for about seven years, i think, and crossing the pond regularly to do "america's got talent," and "the apprentice," but you had never done anything like this before, so were you frightened? >> it was unnerving. i remember who was being fairly self-confident about these things, but i remember the really big moment for me was when i went to the monkey bar in new york on new year's eve, end of that year, with a few friends, andrew lloyd weber's
daughter who managedded to steal all his mar go, 1982, which if you know your wife, particularly good. we had truckloads of it, hungover, and i tried to walk it off. i saw this absolutely gigantic a 150 miles stares at me. it was me. cameras, lights, action, "piers morgan tonight," christ, this is going to happen. i was replacing probably the great television icon of all time, 7,000 shows, 25 years, airing in 200 places around the world, "larry king live," and why are we replacing larry king with an annoying british guy who
tell people they suck on "america's got talent." cnn had a different take. they are "life stories," a bigraphic interview show. i think they saw then that i could do interviews, but the challenge for me was the fact in america nobody saw me interview anybody. it was daunting. >> but you decided to differentiate yourself from the larry king show. i mean, larry had virtues, and they were not always a very ingressive associator should we say. how did you go to your show to what it was before? >> larry is not a trained journalist, but a radio guy. he was used to just talking and talking and talking for hours on end in miami, i think it was, for a long time. a brilliant job. he felt confident interviewing
anybody walking in. he treated like people coming into a bar, and, in fact, he told me a great story about how he and another friend of his who did another show, challenged each other by sending somebody as a guest to their show who they had no idea who they were, and just putting them on set and had to interview them completely blind, and larry, from memory is meatloaf, the singer. had never heard of him, no idea what he did. the guy arrives, and he says, so, how's it going? meatloaf says, fine, thank you. [laughter] the interview went on, but larry turned it round because his brilliance is the guy in the bar that could basically interview anybody and start from scratch and be a great curiosity. my background is much more journalistic in the sense i was a trained journalist at 5 years, ran through the biggest newspapers ever heard, and i always came at it with the brother, a british army colonel, and they had the p's, prior
planning and preparation prevent pitfalls. you can't do enough. i always try to over research, probably much more than barbara walters or david frost style than larry. he could wing it brilliantly. that was the key distinction, i guess. >> well, so, you're getting ready for your first show, and you had a dream guest. >> everyone watches the first week, and if you start with the chuckle brothers and snooki from the "jersey shore," you have a problem. i identified president obama or oprah winfrey. the most powerful man and woman in the country, and, therefore, i'll be in the world, and we couldn't get obama, tried everything, but it was too big a risk, kept telling us, don't worry, you're absolutely on our radar.
three years later, we're still on the radar. anyway, i live in hope. the other one was oprah. pure lock. i was living at the time at the beverly willshire hotel in los angeles, and the general manager there was a very good friend of gayle king, oprah's best friend. i told him my woes, three weeks from launch, we have not got anybody. what about oprah? can't get near her. he said, gayle's here, drop her a line. i did. i said, look, i'm prepared to do anything to land this interview short of parasailing naked into the white house, and even that is negotiateble. [laughter] she replied, piers, if you give me a promise you will not parasail naked into the white house, there's a possibility. [laughter] we never met, just corresponded by e-mail and got along great, and i don't know why, and i still don't really know why, but gayle pushed and pushed and pushed, and eventually, persuaded oprah to do it, and the day we got oprah confirmed is the first guest, we
literally, like a game of dominoes, we got george clooney, howard stern, condoleezza rice, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, and i knew we have a strong week. oprah was fantastic. she walked into the montage hotel in l.a., and with gayle, first time i met either of them, and as we walked in she goes, oh, gayle, remind me again why am i doing this interview with this guy we know nothing about? she said, i just -- gayle, do you -- have you ever actually mentioned -- she couldn't believe like we met like we've never met. that was a moment for oprah to realize i never actually met this woman who was pushing so hard for the interview. nor seen any of the interview. she gave me 40 minutes, gave me nearly two hours. she was more generous going out, she was launching her own
network, own, and she went out on the red carpet for that for a week, just telling everyone what a great interview it had been, how tough i was. actually, loads of painkillers after, and a long hot bath, all those things. we coddle that as the ultimate pro moe that you could wish for. i don't know how we pulled it off, but i know gayle king, and if you want to get to oprah, get to gayle. >> oprah asked you not to make her cry. >> it's rich coming from oprah winfrey. i wanted signature questions. i thought the good in bed one, my key question that was inappropriate for cnn, so i came up with a derivative which is how many times have you been properly in love, and the other question was, if i could make
you relive five minutes of your life excluding wives and children, what would you choose to happen it again? oprah, the first one, i asked the question, i could tell from the reaction that in 25-30 years of interviewed, no one asked her that question. she went, woah, woah, that's a good question. what do you mean by "properly"? i said whatever you want it to mean. i said, whatever aches your heart, i guess. she said, three -- well, wait a minute, breaks your heart? she said, steven's never broken my heart. two, two -- i said, and do we know who they are? she went, you know one of them. who is the other guy? she said, well, all i can say is i kept his love letters in a safe in my house, and gayle knows if anything happens to me to get the letters. i sat there thinking this is unbelieverble, an amazing interview. at the end of it, whatever
happens, we got an amazing launch pad for the show. >> that's great. if you could tell, one of the things that makes the book fund to read is there are boldfaced names on every page, and -- >> is that your way of saying shameless name dropping? >> anyway, the name, just a few, donald trump, bill o'reilly, barbara walters, tony blair, warren batey, and ahmadinejad. >> that's chapter one. [laughter] >> sometimes they are guests on the show, sometimes people you run into at parties where you ask them to be on the show. >> i see ahmadinejad how many times he was in love. that was a moment. >> yes. >> he look at me for quite about five seconds, and said, i am in love with all of humanity. [laughter] true story. >> well, as george clooney is mentioned in the subtitle of the
book, tell us a good george clooney story. >> i saw george last week by chance as "gravity" was launching in new york, and i walked into the private luncheon, and he's with his publicist, dan, an old friend of mine, and, hey, george, you're in the title of business of the book. he said, i am? i said, yeah, it's called "shooting straight: guns, gays, god, and george clooney," and he said, how many of those things are supposed to apply to me? [laughter] george, that's between you and the lord. [laughter] he said, the reason we put george in there -- >> not used to second billing to god, i guess. >> no, he's not. the reason i put him in there is, a, the name begins with "g," and, also, he was like the my -- mid #kwr of a proper star. obviously, lots of people who occupy many runs of the celebrity ladder, and he's somebody celebrity, a proper
star. he doesn't do the cheesy celebrity stuff. he's incredibly passionate about issues like sudan, incredibly well-informed, upperly charming journalist. i'm sure, some of the people here know, he's a terrific guy, and i interviewed george and nick together, which was great, and the funny bit, actually, in the commercial break, i went -- it was nick clooney's with me, and george was by remote satellite, and nick said it was his birthday. i said to george, hey, george, happy birthday. he said, i did, twaim. yeah, i got a signed first edition of hemmingway's "when the bell tolls," and nick laughed, and george said, it was not signed by hemmingway. it was signed by me. [laughter] but, no, i really bonded with george clooney at the white house correspondence dinner, first time i went, fantastically good fun event here. i'm sure 5 lot of people here
have been. afterwards, there's a vanity fair party at the french embassy. my idea of french wine and very cool, glamorous location, and i just ended up in the middle of the main room getting drunk with jnch clooney, and i got so drunk i can't remember anything we talked about. i said, naves one of the great diary entries ever, and instead, i pretended i didn't want to invade his privacy, and i couldn't remember. it was great. all i remember is he gave me repeated bear hugs and talked about everything from celebrities, sudan, to guns, whatever it may be, and he's just a proper star. he's like the old -- look at clooney and think you're back in the 50s, you know, mystique and there's a kind of sense of gnash about how he dresses and talks. it was him or snook tie. i went with clone any. >> well, congratulations.
>> thank you. >> so we talk about celebrities you interviewed, any political figure who is of importance these days, and i wonder who made the strongest impression on you? >> the dali la maw was extraordinary. he's 75, met him at the may owe clinic where he had an annual checkup which goes well, never had alcohol, a drug, never smoked a cigarette, never had sex, doesn't watch television or watch movies or listen to music. he basically meditates and read, and that's why he looks 50 and i look 7 a. -- 75 -- [laughter] , but i loved him. he was funny, sharp, i think he's the fourth longest serving ruler of any kind. spiritual religious in the world after, like -- i think it's the king of thailand is the longest serving, then the queen
elizabeth of england, and then castro. he was fantastic because he has a brilliant sort of overview of world issues, and he met so many american presidents, and i was surprised. who was the one you liked best? he said, george bush. i assumed me met the dad. >> the elder, yeah. >> he met the youngest. i hear a lot about george w. bush that in person he's a charming guy. made a big impression. i think he was one of them, but my favorite is bill clinton.
if you do, come preparedded tomorrow. the room light was three times the audience, we're in the middle, out he comes, and i have no idea what's going to happen, and i arranged video screens around the room to play the bono impression right off the top. this goes one of two ways, television defeat or utter embarrassing fiasco. he plays the impression, and i said, mr. president, can you do a bono? long, very uncomfortable silence. i said, oh, god, no. plan b, the wrong way. he slowly went like this, and he pull out these haj dark sunglasses, and he put them on -- [laughter] and anyway, turns out, he couldn't do a bono impression. it was awful. the glasses were fan -- fantastic. the thought is what counts.
i talked to clinton a half hour at the party before. he's extraordinary. a, he's like genuinely interested to anyone's talking to. looking you straight in the eye the whole time. he's very tactful, told a moving story, tears in the eyes, and i realized the former president of the united states had been on my shoulder for five minutes, but it felt natural and normal, and that's an amazing people skill he has to make you feel like the most important person in that moment. we got to talking about how you do business with people that you are, opposed to. , a hen traded blows with newt gingrich, and he was fascinated. i said, how did you deal with it? the moment, it seems to me, that no one is getting stuff done in the conversations.
i remember we were going at each other so hard, bang, bang, bang, bang, and we really would shout at each other and everything, but in the end, we got to the point of consensus, so i said to him the obvious follow, yeah, but could you trust him? he debuted his word on something, do you trust him? he goes putin never went back on his word on me once. that was fascinating. he looked each other in the eye and did business, and that's what i suspect is missing in washington right now. you know, with newt gingrich, they spoke every day until the shut down. you know that president obama and boehner don't have that relationship. >> yeah. >> they need to. get in a room, throw everybody out, and go at it. >> right. right. we've been touching on what tina brown calls the high-low mix.
there's news and there's some entertainment. a little bit entertainment tonight, a little bit "meet the press," and is that a hard line to walk, and how do you know where to find the balance? >> it's not. it's not hard, but the problem is finding enough of the proper stars i think are worthy of the cnn audience, and i put that in the most polite way possible. if it's clooney or oprah, it blends absolutely effortlessly into everything else that we do, but, you know, it's jarring if you're going if a few rungs too far down the celebrity ladder like i mentioned earlier. i think you got to be careful that you maintain a credibility and that your audience is intelligent and knowledgeable and they want to be entertained in a smart way. if you have clooney, he can talk to the audience in a way that's not remotely jarring. sometimes, and i won't name names, i felts as an interviewer we shouldn't have this person on
cnn. it's just -- they are not able to talk about stuff in a way that i think is relevant to our audience, and we try and avoid that. thing about cnn is that everyone reads about the raping situations at cnn. it depends on what's happening. when there's news, cnn's ratings are fantastic. everybody turns on cnn because it's a brand that they absolutely trust, and that's an amazing brand to have conversely when there's not much going on. the challenge is to make those series as compelling as you can. in the end, i settle for the brand that people instinctively turn to when something serious happens like the last week of the shut down. cnn's ratings were three times what they normally would be. that's the network i want to work at. people come to us to get through the part of the nonsense. >> the rating question in the
book, you write very early on, your diary, you say, i can spout it's not just about the ratings stuff i like, but the truth is if hi ratings tank for a sustained period of time, i'm out. i mean, how do you think it's going now? >> well, one idea of what it's like, the ratings. psychological hell because take last week. we just -- a week ago monday night, my show was an hour long special about the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, and we had the lowest rating at nine o'clock on cnn all morning, afternoon, and night. we got hammered by rachel on msnbc. i staredded at the ratings for an hour trying to work out how this could happen because it doesn't normally happen like that. the next night, exactly the same show, one our special, shutdown, debt ceiling crisis, almost the
same people, and we had the highest ratings at cnn, morning, noon, and night, and we hammered rachel into the ground. i spent another hour fathoming how that happened, and then, eventually, my producer, a brilliant guy, gave me the answer. oh, yeah, sorry, i forgot to mention, he said, the baseball was in your hour monday night, and it was not last night. [laughter] you can spend hours, days, months, have focus groups, analysts pouring over the catastrophic monday night ratings, and the sublime tuesday night rates, and then you realize that actually sometimes there's a baseball game on. [laughter] it can be as simple as that, and it's, look, it's one of those things where all i look at is a trend. if it's the last quarter of the show, up on the same quarter last year. that's all i look for is some kind of steadiness in the trend because it can be wildly flux waiting depending on what's going on.
>> one of the issues that has become a signature for you is gun safety, and, in fact, that's the scheme of the book and the origin of the title of the book, i imagine, and you begin with a story, this is in the prologue, the story about being in the news room of the daily mirror, and something happened in scotland. tell us about that and your reaction to it. >> yeah because some people think i jumped on a band wagon with the gun thing. it goes back earlier. in 1996, we had sandy hook that year, and i been editing the paper for less than a year, watching the television screen very, very similar to what we saw at sandy hook where the early reports were shooting in a school, saw these frantic parents running to the gates of the school, and this guy called hamilton shot dead 16 5-year-old children in an elementary school, a very, very similar
story, and we launched a campaign at daily mirror against not assault weapons, but handguns issue and it was successful. we joined in with several other newspapers, and 18 months later, all assault weapons and almost all handguns were banned completely from great britain, gone, never came back. what's fascinating is it was never a partisan debate. it was never left and right or if you're progun you're a conservative or if you're progun control you're from wild liberal maniac. everyone agreed this was unthinkable, unconscionable to do nothing in the light of such a accident of young children. for the first few years after, gun crime rose because the full effects of the ban had not come in, and then they made it miewntive saying if you are caught, you go to prison for five years, and from that day, the gun crime rate has fallen every single year for the next
12-13 years, and, you know, the figures speak for themselves. britain has about 35 gun murders a year. america has 11 to 12,000. america has 18,000 more that kill themselves with guns in suicide. america has 70,000 more people who are hit by gunfire due to the brilliance of surgeons have their lives saved. the numbers should be higher, but surgeons are better than they used to be of saving lives. people are riddled with bullets all the time. while we talk, the statistical analysis is three more people have been murdered with guns or taken their lives with guns in america. the sandy hook -- back to aurora. >> that was a turning point. >> the turning point for me which was i came on air a week after gabby gyre fords was shot, nearly assassinated, three people killed, a 3-year-old girl, and i couldn't believe the
disability after that lasted a week and everyone back to normal. i thought you got to be kidding me, a congresswoman nearly assassinated, and the answer is you do nothing? i began to note this on the show, and then aurora happened. this was the biggest single shooting by one civilian shooter in american history with people hit, 70 hit, 58 wounded, 12 killed, and, so me, this crazed kid being able to get four assault weapons, including an ar-15 assault rifle, 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet without any background checks, nothing, to then dress up as a joker, go in a movie theater in colorado and blow away an audience like this until he was stopped. the answer, again, is you do nothing? i remember michael bloomberg, mayor of new york, said to me if we don't do anything after that, what will it take? four months later was cantedy
hook, twenty children blown to pieces, and i said that phrase repeatedly on the show, and that gets an angry reaction. don't talk about it like that. well, no, people have to understand what happened to the kids. i interviewed one of the daughter of one of the teachers, and she said that these ar15 bullets left holes the size of golf balls. each child was hit three to 11 times. i have four kids including a young 2-year-old daughter. that could be any of our children. what was the answer? well, congress in its wisdom did nothing, department pass background checks, didn't once have 40% of the gun trades in america to establish whether they are criminal or mentally insane. it was not reasonable, reasonable restrictions as to the supreme court's ruling on
the second amendment. nothing happened. i don't know what it will take for something to happen, but what i do know is the fastest selling weapon in america since sandy hook is the ar15 used to kill those children. why? because obama's going to grab those gun, and yet, not one of president obama's proposals with feinstein or the others or anything i called for removes one gun from circulation. what about going forward, removing this farce where i can go to many walmarts in meshings, not in new york, because there's tough gun control, and that's why gun crime is back to 60s levels. i go to most walmarts in america, i can't buy chocolate surprise eggs because they are bannedded in america because of the toys inside could choke me. i can't buy six packets of pseudofed because i might build
a chemical. that's banned as well. i can't buy french cheese because the bacteria inside it is harmful to my health. rather than those three things on a huge wall in many walmarts in austin, wherever it may be, there are ar15 assault rifles. [laughter] now, i know i'm british. i know we're a bit strange. [laughter] i find this to be ridiculous. [laughter] forgive me if i keep trying to have this lonely burrow because i'm concerned what it will take because right now there's nothing to stop another kid going oh, buying a gun, and shooting up another movie theater or school. >> to talk about the journalism side of this, your executive producer is worried you went too far. we have guns and advocates on
the show, one just this week, what's his name -- >> just to put it in cop text, allen runs an organization called the second amendment foundation, and the reason i had him on the show is he's currently launching a campaign to turn the first anniversary of sandy hook, december 14th, into national guns save lives day. he's getting traction. he's now moved into the next day because of all the outrage, but, you know, this is what you're dealing with. this is the mentality that you're dealing with. now, i've always said i don't have a problem in a country with 300 million guns in circulation with american families with a handgun at home to defend themselves. i get the need to do that. bill mar has one for that specific reason. i wouldn't, but he does. why does any civilian need an ar15 assault rifle? they could unload a hundred bullets a minute. to one gives me an answer.
one gun guy said they are the ferrari of guns. that's not a good enough reason to me. >> no. changing subjects here. you joined twitter november 30th, 2010. i checked last night, and you now have 3.7 million followers, and you sent more than 37,000 tweets which works out to 10,000 tweetings a year or 33 tweets a day, and the report in the diary your wife says maybe you have gone overboard. >> my wife hates it. she spends equal amount of time on ebay buying handbags. [laughter] i wouldn't mind the lecture. it's every time i get it, she's tapping away getting some, you know, brada bag. i think it's reel -- relative. i'm addicted to it. >> how do you think twitter changed the way we december
seminate news in the news cycle? >> i think it changed it ire revically. i use it for many reasons, one just to book guests. it's the best way of booking people. i booked everyone from jees is a alda, mike tyson because you directly tweet them. what happens, if you have the followers, hundreds of other people who follow you tweet and say what a great idea or don't be crazy, whatever, but i got 50 people that way, and you get past the agents, managers, lawyers, publicists. my publicist doesn't like it, but it removes the need for a publicist. you can also control your own -- if you're anyone in the public eye, you control your own -- i guess your own message and voice because, you know, like this morning, somebody -- in britain, the competition is who can write the most vicious review. i enjoy it. there was one absolutely spell bindingly awful one today, and this guy, this guy just a real
problem morgan, all this other stuff, just a lousy writer, so i tweeted him directly. remember, he's got 4,000 followers, i got 3.7 million. i have slightly more impact coming back, and i said, i have no problem with you calling me a lousy writer, but my one question to you is, how would you know? [laughter] he's now had hundreds of people going, burn, got him! you know, that wouldn't have been available to me before. i would be seething on my own unable to exact horrific revenge. i can now unload the army, and i love it for that. [laughter] the other thing is as a journalist tick story is just fantastic, and, i mean, the reason i love it so much is i'm on it fairly consistently is if anything happens, if you do a story, you want to know what's happening and what are smart people saying about this? well, this is perfect. you have any news story break,
and if you're following the shot down, and you follow ryan or nick or any number of people, you've just -- you get every development as it happens, and you get their instand verdict. the -- it's unparalleled. i mean, one of the great twitter resource engines imaginable. the fourth reason for a laugh and just conspire off, you know, i had a great one the other day, cindy crawford, the only woman my wife says i can sleep with on her conditions, so i've been trying to -- >> and twitter is your root. [laughter] >> she tweeted a picture of peal makeup saying, i always loved you, blitz. i glanced, and i replied, well, don't we all, cindy, and she immediately replied, really, i had you down as a red lips guy, and all the people in britain were following me, agas with
horror. i was having this ridiculous conversation with the world's greatest supermodel, and i was agas with joy thinking i'm a step nearer to you know what. [laughter] >> being properly in love, i guess. >> exactly. >> being in bed, not necessary ily -- >> exactly. >> okay. going to questions from the audience in a minute, but, you know, somewhat intimidating who is not a professional interviewer to interview someone who i believe you described yourself recently as the world's greatest interview -- >> no, no, no. >> radio -- >> i mean i was asked about britain. it's -- in britain, we don't have anyone doing interviews i do. i do bigraphical three-hour interviews 234 front of an audience. i was making a joke about the best interviewer because i'm in the field of one. it's different in america. >> well, anyway, i decided i was
going to take inspiration for the interrue and get hints from the book, and so i made a list of the questions that you've asked other people. it's already discussed two of them. if you described someone who never heard anything about you, what's the honest description? >> massively misunderstood. [laughter] the one thing when i was on the newspaper of the young show business reporter, i was an editor, a legend, and the editor of all time, saying the single most annoying thing about me was that even when i made a terrible mistake and screamed at me for ten hours, i'd always bounce back with a big grin on my face and a good story. i've always been able to, as that reviewer wrote, so kindly
repeated today, my correction is more failure because i think, actually, there's a certain truth to how you deal with failure and often dictates exactly how your career in life goes. everyone can deal with success. you're a number one show, lucky enough to be in those or a number one book, had that, all great, but anyone can enjoy that bit. that's the easy bit. when you drop a catastrophic plaque and get fired as i was from the daily mirror, literally thrown into the streets without a phone or jacket after ten years, and you go back to the apartment in chelsea as i had been in england, and you have ten minutes of each of the ten networks newses, and this goes on for, like, days, and you're the most identified, ridiculed figure in britain for weeks. that is character build. you know, that really is. i think that the ability to
bounce back from disaster would be -- that would be what i say is one of my keys. >> okay, good answer. let's see, you asked ted turner, what's your remaining ambition? >> movies. his name is bond. craig can't go on forever. [laughter] i made four movies in the last year, and i got to say it's dpipg well. the comedy, political comedy, had a cameo in that, the biggest grossing comical in history, "flight" with denzel washington, and there was one other terrible one i can't remember. [laughter] anyway, i play myself. it was all going great. movies are great, but what
pissed me off was the cameo in the bond movie. that ate away. i'm sure i bump into him at the bureau later, but he always mentions it, says, how is the movie career going? not bad. he says, remember i got sky fall and grossed a billion dollars? >> just a very definitive person. >> oh, mid god, you have no idea. don't be mistaken by the bond that raid yales from the screen, ruthless, evil man, only matched by anderson cooper. [laughter] >> you've already toll me you won't answer the have you been properly in love question. >> i don't want to break hearts narrowing it down. >> okay. okay. i'll ask you the question you asked newt gingrich. what kind of animal would you be? [laughter] >> you know, he has a great answer. he had like a hundred thousand bones, really thought this through.
i don't know probably, huh, i suspect other people would say jackal feeding off the rotting remains of people. [laughter] >> maybe the turtle who always gets flipped over. >> that's a great call. a turtle. >> i'll give you that. >> they always come back up. i like that, yeah, yeah, a turtle. [laughter] >> your turn to ask questions. raise your hand if you have a question. the person right there. >> i'm curious about how much control you have because it seems in watching cnn it's just changing the host and the hosts are the same, the topics are the same so you watch three hours,
essentially, of the same thing every night on cnn. >> it's fair, obviously, there's a big story like the shutdown it's repettivetive in the sense we don't assume people watch for hours on end. most of the research says they don't. you know, and we my boss at n cc worked hard at trying to make each hour as distepghtive, and when there's a breaking news story, that goes out of the window. i think it's a distinctive program more than we used to be. there was a clean pair of eyes that said we got to make each
hour feel fresh and different. the people like you who may watch for more than one hour want to have something different, and i say back to you, no one else on the network did the stuff i've done that we have done, for example. i say in the book the need for each show and each anchor to have a voice is important, and, you know, if you look at the most successful people on cable news, john stewart, very different people, but they have distintive voices. people know what they stand for, and they like it. i realize this firmly when i watch the pilot episode of the news room, and if you remember it, but jeff daniels goes through the metaphor of sis of an audience letting rip about what's wrong with america, and it's like his awakening, and it's the moment that he realizes he's found his voice, and i felt, after watching that, i said, well, what do i really care about? what can i do this week? what can i show real passion for that is surging through me when i talk about it?
it was the gun control debate because it went back to what happened at the daily mirror and everything else. i think it's important. it's a good question, and it's a very pert innocent question, one we all, i think, are evolving at cnn quite quickly. >> over here, yes. >> i'm with human events. you talk about changing gun laws, and you address gun rights, but since you've been in america, do you understand the difference between a law and a constitutional right, and do you now understand that constitutional rights are a little bit more sacred and there's a process for addressing them? >> i understand the constitution. i also understand it calls for
the second amendment. in other words, it's an amendment already. i also understand as you know the history of the second amendment, and jeffrey is a brilliant cnn legal analyst who wrote a book about it. actually, it's a magazine article about it, i think in the new yorker, but a great piece. the history of the second amendment is for 16 # -- 160 years after being crafted, it was interpreted to mean not that an individual had the right to bear arms in their own lives. they could bear arms in a well regulated militia. that's how it was interpreted. in the early 70s, the nra was overly political. it had very right wing people who took over and they began to push for a redefining of the second amendment meaning. ..
>> what's your question? >> it's do you want, still want to amend it, or do can you just ignore it? >> i think it's a good question and perfectly valid, and i think that the answer is they said in that ruling that the government should still have the power to have reasonable restrictions. then it comes down to what is a reasonable restriction. and there are at least 50 firearms in america which are banned. you can't buy a machine gun, for
example. and yet the difference between firing a fully automatic machine gun and a semiautomatic ar-15 that has a slider device attached to it, and i know this because my brother, as i said, is an army colonel, is minuscule. i think there are other assault weapons that should come under the definition, even under the reinterpretation of it under reasonable restrictions. but i respect the constitution. i also respect when there was a petition to have me supported signed by 125,000 americans, president obama on the white house web site wrote, you know, his people wrote a proper judgment, if you like, almost like the supreme court saving morgan from the american people, which i know you were thrilled about -- [laughter] and at the same time, there was a rival position in britain to keep me here, by the way. [laughter] so that was the bit that really stung. [laughter] but in that, of course, he pointed out that under the first amendment i had the absolute right to have an opinion on the second amendment.
so when these gun guys say to me you have no right to do this, well, i'm a u.s. resident, a legal u.s. resident. i'm covered by the same constitution that you all are. and i respect that absolutely. but when you've got so many amendments anyway, you say it's a sacred document. it's fine, but it's a bit like saying the bible is a sacred document, and i speak as a good irish catholic boy. well, good-ish irish catholic -- [laughter] you can be very naughty, you just have to be extremely sorry afterwards. [laughter] lots of confession. i think you just have to look at it not so much as a sacred document as an evolutionary document. hence, the amendments that have already taken place. i think there is quite a good argument to have a debate, and i'm not the one to start this debate was i'm not -- because i'm not even american, as you would rightly say, a debate about whether the wording of the second amendment should be rephrased. because the founding fathers would have had no idea that you
would have a walmart selling ar-15s to crazed kids. of course they would -- they invented the second amendment when there were muskets that took 35 seconds to reload each bullet. but if the guy in aurora in that movie theater had to take 35 seconds to reload each time he fired a bullet, he would have been taken down after one, maybe two people. and then 68 people wouldn't have been shot. so i think there is an argument if you look at it as an evolutionary document and not a sacred one to say maybe it is time to look at it and reamend it again. and that's for americans to have that debate. >> okay. i'd like to -- yes, this woman here. >> [inaudible] of nbc tv korea. what is it that makes a great interviewer? is it good researching about the interviewees, or is it a good producer, or are you born with a good talent? >> it's natural born genius.
[laughter] it's all the things that you say. you need to have a brilliant producer. i have a producer, actually, who was the executive producer of both toed show nbc and the nightly news, so steeped in tradition. was actually the president of nbc for four years. he came with great pedigree. he's got a great theme of bookers and researchers. all that is incredibly important. you've got great guests. without the guests really, a guest-driven show is dead in the water. and you've got to have, you know, an ability, i think, to draw stuff out of people, to make people feel relaxed enough to want to have stuff drawn out of them. but the most, best bit of advice i had was david frost who was a good friend of mine and a great guy and a great interviewer. if you go back to his early interviews, the master. the nixon tapes, 28 hours he spent. i can't even imagine that. he funded it all himself.
couldn't get any of the main networks to having to agree to paying nixon $600,000 and forked up all this money, he couldn't sell it to the main american networks because they wouldn't take what they saw as checkbook journalism. but in the end he made $2 million by showing it to the syndicated shows around america. a brilliant piece of interviewing. 28 hours of tapes. i may be one of the few people who has listened to them. why would you? 28 hours, basically, getting to one moment, the moment that nixon apologizes to the american people. >> now that you mention -- i was going to ask you who do you think is the best interviewer -- >> well, i was going to say him. obviously, sadly he died recently, but the advice he gave me was never underestimate the power of silence as a television interview e and that was classic with the nixon interview. when you're silent in a
television environment, everyone is quite tense. i did this with ahmadinejad, actually. the guest will fill the silence. they don't want to have an uncomfortable silence. so they tend to then fill it, and they'll slightly panic and come out with something, as in pix son did, that they just -- as nixon did, that they just want to end this uncomfortable moment. he said you've got to be very judicious with it, though, because sometimes the reason there's silence is your guest has forgotten what they were going to say. [laughter] so you have to work out quite quickly whether it's uncomfortable because they're contemplating to reveal what they're going to reveal or because they can't remember what they're going to reveal. and if it's the latter, get out of it quickly. >> let's have another question. yes. >> hi. i'm -- can't tell by my accent, but i'm british and american, and one of the things that amazes me when i'm here in the u.s. is the difference in style and interview. we have the british, the jeremy
paxman, people live in fear of being interviewed by him, and here it's or very passive. i ask, you answer, and then i follow with another question, and that antagonistic style, the british style, you have some of that. you mentioned bill o'reilly and jon stewart, but it's very rare here. do you think that as american viewers of news that it's a disservice to us to have such passive news? >> well, i don't think it's quite as bad as you're picturing. i know the point you're making. i think that here's a little secret for you. americans, in my experience in living here mostly for the last eight years, are actually more polite than the brits these days. >> [inaudible] >> well, yeah. i'm talking, i'm generalizing. but it's, i think you actually are a more polite race than the brits. the brits used to have this reputation, and americans still think we are the epitome of david niche-style charm and good grace, but it's not really like that back home. and most brits who i've talked to about this agree, it's turned
not in a good way whereas americans always say that they're the people you most want to find next to you if you're in trouble, you know? you're just incredibly helpful. it's why i'm sure that our military have always worked side by side. my brother always says you want to have one set of people next to you in the trench when the going gets rough, you want americans. and be i think that's why there's a special relationship. but i think that the respect thing is quite interesting. there is more respect in television interviewing in america. but there's more respect between you generally. and i would say this thing about americans don't do irony and sarcasm is not strictly like that, and certainly new york, washington and l.a., of course, you get irony and sarcasm. you're just not as cynical as we are in britain. the whole humor is based around what we call piss-taking, sending people up. so when brits get together, you can imagine if i have dinner with simon cowell and gordon ramsay, you can imagine how it goes. it's like, morning, wanker.
and americans listening go, oh, my god, these people from britain, what happened to david niven? [laughter] and i just think you have -- and you may be surprised to hear it. i think that you're just slightly more civilized. [laughter] >> [inaudible] interviewed where the person said -- >> i go off on people, and sometimes i lose my temper with these young guys in particular. and this guy the other night when he was explaining why we had to make the sandy hook anniversary, and eventually i just lost my temper and called him a complete idiot, and my producers immediately, do not call these people idiots. and i'm like, but he is an idiot. [laughter] indus piewt my, a monumental idiot. yes, but, of course, a lot of people watching will be lured by the gun owners who may not agree with what he's doing with the campaign but don't want me looking like i'm calling everyone that owns a gun an
idiot, which i'm not. but i was quite happy with my performance that night calling an idiot an idiot. [laughter] >> very successful on twitter, as i recall. >> yes. [laughter] >> we have time for one more question. let's see, the person in the middle here. >> thank you, jake. in retrospect, are there interviews that you regret or perhaps one you took too far? >> what you really regret are the ones when you just make a terrible mistake. and thankfully, knock wood, there haven't been too many at cnn. there was one, for example, and it shows you how it can happen in the speed of a live show. i was interviewing a comedian, and my producer said, oh, a comedian has died called patrice o'neill, you should mention it because the guy you're interviewing worked with him and will know him, and you should break the news, and you should
be very nice about it. got it, got it. now, in england patrice is a girl's name. so i just assumed. and the one rule of television in a live environment, never assume anything. and always assume the red light's on as well, that you're live. i turned to this guy and said some really sad news has just broken, patrice o'neill has died, and my producer's shouting we've got a great clip, patrice o'neill on leno, go now. okay, got it. i said, in fact, we've got a clip that we can show by way of tribute to the great patrice -- she really was one of the funniest comedians in america, and i turned to the clip, and there's this huge guy -- [laughter] talking to leno. and i felt terrible. you know? because i'm thinking his family might have been watching. americans who knew him would think, you know, you've got the british accent doing it, so it
made me immediately feel alienated from american popular culture. it was terrible. and then you just hope no one's noticed. so then you come back after the break, and luckily the guy i was talking to didn't say anything in the moment. we went to a break, and in the break i was like, i'm so sorry. my producer's like, no, no, no, it's a he, it's a he. and by then the damage is done, i come back after break, and say there we have it. he really was one of the funniest guys, whatever. went home and, of course, twitter just blew up with my imbecilic behavior. but that's how it can happen. it looks imbecilic in hindsight, in the moment. those are the moments i regret most mainly because, as i say, if any member of his family was watching, it looks disrespectful. and it fails my seven ps test. next time i would wait until he verified male or female if he
knew i didn't know. >> well, thank you very much. >> my pleasure. thank you. well, thank you. >> barbara, thank you. and this is your lucky day for one lucky brit, we're giving you the national press club coffee be mug. >> thank you. [laughter] >> so in case you don't have enough news in your life -- >> very kind of you, thank you very much. >> and we have a round of applause -- >> thank you. [applause] we'd like you to sit over there. >> sure. >> all right. >> my pleasure. >> and he will be signing books. please don't get up until your number is called. you all should have received a number when you purchased a book. thank you. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights, watch key public policy events and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our web site, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> australian activist nick adams argues that the u.s. will continue to dominate both economically and militarily through the next century. he says that americans have a boomerang spirit that will overcome the doom and gloom being expressed about the country today. this is about 40 minutes.
>> good day, wetumpka! [cheers and applause] do you guys know how to throw a party, or do you guys know how to throw a matter? [cheers and applause] it's great to be back in alabama. it is good to be back. boy, is it good to be back in alabama. [laughter] thank you so much. [applause] please, everyone, have a seat. everyone have a seat. thank you so much. i want to thank becky and eric garrettson for having me here today, and i want to thank each and every single one of you for coming here. it's great to be in a room so full of patriots. [cheers and applause] we're here at a crucial time in american history, because the truth is that we are in